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Songs of American Idol Season 10 - Top 12

A Recap of Songs Performed During Top 12 Week of American Idol, Airing 3/16/11


Do you know what songs were popular the year you were born? The contestants of American Idol season 10 may have had to take a crash course when they reached the Top 12 theme of songs from the year they were born. Between finding a song and battling a flu outbreak amongst the contestants, Top 12 week was a mixed bag for both contestants and viewers. Read on for a recap of the songs and performances from American Idol season 10's Top 12 week.

1. Naima Adedapo – "What’s Love Got to Do With It" (Tina Turner)

Courtesy Capitol Records

While Naima Adedapo's performance during American Idol season 10's Top 13 week was entertaining, many expressed concerns that it may have been more style over substance. Unfortunately those concerns continued into Top 12 week, where Naima's vocals were cited for being pitchy and concerns were expressed that it may be a trend rather than a one-off situation. "What's Love Got to Do With It" was a career-defining single for Tina Turner in 1984, establishing her as major pop artist for the next 20 years and helping her land her first number one hit in the US.


2. Paul McDonald – "I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues" (Elton John)

Courtesy Geffen Records

At one point during Paul McDonald's performance of "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues" in Top 12 week, the camera cut to judge Jennifer Lopez, who had a concerned look on her face. That concern was warranted, as Paul McDonald seemed to be a victim of the same bug that also struck other finalists. While Paul McDonald soldiered through, his already raspy voice was greatly compromised. Elton John released "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues" in 1983, the song was still on the charts in 1984 when Paul McDonald was born.


3. Thia Megia – "Colors of the Wind" (Vanessa Williams)

Courtesy Walt Disney Records

During the audition process for American Idol season 10, Thia Megia appeared to be a front-runner and judges' favorite for going far in the competition. However, that enthusiasm appeared to cool a bit as finals progressed, with Thia Megia finding herself in the middle of the pack rather than up front. All three judges mentioned that her choice of "Colors of the Wind" was not very inspired, in part because of a lack of connection to the music that was not translating well to the viewers. Vanessa Williams recorded "Colors of the Wind" for the Disney movie Pocahontas in 1995, and the single peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100, marking her final trip to the Top 40.


4. James Durbin – "I’ll Be There For You" (Bon Jovi)

Courtesy Mercury Records

James Durbin mentioned in the introduction to his version of Bon Jovi's "I'll Be There For You" that the band was "killin' it on the charts" in 1989. While James Durbin didn't have his best performance of the season, his consistently solid appearances appear to solidify his standing as a favorite to make it to the finals. In fact, Steven Tyler agreed to perform with James Durbin should he make it to the finals. "I'll Be There For You" hit number one in 1989 at the height of Bon Jovi's popularity, and is regarded as one of the best songs of their career.


5. Haley Reinhart – "I’m Your Baby Tonight" (Whitney Houston)

Haley Reinhart was most likely looking to shake up her image after her Top 12 week performance of "Blue" fell a bit flat. Judges rightfully questioned Haley Reinhart's musical direction, as it seemed she does a different style of music every week, and Jennifer Lopez cited her awkward moves as she performed. "I'm Your Baby Tonight" was the title track and first single from Whitney Houston's third album released in 1990, and it became Whitney's eighth number one single.


6. Stefano Langone – "If You Don’t Know Me By Now" (Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes)

Courtesy Elektra Records

After an hour of performances that were good but not great, Stefano Langone took to the stage and owned R&B classic "If You Don't Know Me By Now." Having been almost sent home during Top 24 week, Stefano Langone made the most of his second chance, causing Randy Jackson to declare that Stefano's performance was the best of the night to that point. "If You Don't Know Me By Now" was originally written for Labelle, but when Patti Labelle's namesake group turned the song down, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes hit the studio and earned a hit of their own, reaching number one on the R&B chart and number three on the pop chart. The biggest version of the song was by Simply Red, who had a number one hit with it in Stefano's birth year of 1989.


7. Pia Toscano – "Where Do Broken Hearts Go" (Whitney Houston)

Courtesy Arista Records

Pia Toscano cemented her position as frontrunner during Top 12 week on American Idol with an inspired updating of Whitney Houston's "Where Do Broken Hearts Go." Instead of following the power ballad arrangement from the original, Rodney Jerkins flipped the script and turned the song into a dance floor filler, harkening back to Deborah Cox's remix of "Nobody's Supposed to Be Here" from 1998. In 1988, Whitney Houston was the queen of the ballad, ruling the pop charts with songs like "Where Do Broken Hearts Go", which became her seventh number one record in a row on the Billboard Hot 100. 


8. Scotty McCreery – "Can I Trust You With My Heart" (Travis Tritt)

Scotty McCreery entered the auditions with a deep country voice that no one ever expected to come out of a young man of 16, but he used that voice to his advantage as he made his way through to the live rounds of American Idol season ten. While the judges had nothing but praise for his version of Travis Tritt's "Can I Trust You With My Heart," there was something missing in his voice, causing him to sound like several country singers that are already in the marketplace recording hits. "Can I Trust You With My Heart" became Travis Tritt's third of five number one country hits in 1993.


9. Karen Rodriguez – Love Will Lead You Back" (Taylor Dayne)

When the best comment a contestant on American Idol gets from judge Randy Jackson is "it was better than last week," that contestant is in trouble. Such was the issue with Karen Rodriguez's vocal on "Love Will Lead You Back" during season 10's Top 12 week. Karen Rodriguez has a great voice, but her performance of "Love Will Lead You Back" did not connect with the audience or the judges. Taylor Dayne had five top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 prior to "Love Will Lead You Back," but the power ballad became her first and only number one hit in 1990, although the song was recorded in 1989 when Karen Rodriguez was born.


10. Casey Abrams – "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (Nirvana)

Courtesy DGC Records

Back in 2007, rumors had producers on American Idol approaching Courtney Love about being a guest judge in an attempt to get Nirvana's songs cleared for use on the show. Although having a song featured on American Idol can boost sales of the original, many artists prefer not having their music featured on a mainstream talent show, which may have been the case here. Fast forward four years, and Casey Abrams gets clearance to perform "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Judges liked but didn't love the performance, leading some to wonder if Casey Abrams can actually win. While Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" only hit number six on Billboard's Hot 100 chart in 1991, its legacy lives on as one of the best and most popular songs of the rock era.


11. Lauren Alaina – "I’m The Only One" (Melissa Etheridge)

Courtesy Island Records

One of the storylines from Top 12 week of American Idol season 10 was what Lauren Alaina would do to redeem herself after a mediocre performance of "Any Man of Mine" during Top 13 week. Fortunately for her, Lauren Alaina overcame being sick and gave a solid performance of Melissa Etheridge's "I'm the Only One," winning unanimous praise from the judges. "I'm the Only One" is Melissa Etheridge's first and only top 10 hit, reaching number eight in 1993.


12. Jacob Lusk – "Alone" (Heart)

Courtesy Capitol Records

There a few songs that have been performed in previous seasons of American Idol that could potentially be retired because the previous version was so good that everything will be compared to it. Such is the case with Carrie Underwood's version of "Alone," which is widely viewed as her breakout performance in season four. While several other contestants have attempted the song, they have paled in comparison. Jacob Lusk took a stab at "Alone" during the Top 12 week in season 10 and put a more gospel/R&B spin on the track, and despite a few vocal bobbles, came out with a winning combination that stood on its own. "Alone" became Heart's biggest hit, spending three weeks at number one in 1987.


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